Redundancies abundant as a result of proposed cuts to solar

Solar Trade Association
Solar Trade Association

The solar industry is calling on the Government to make essential moves to secure the solar sector following a survey of 204 companies by the Solar Trade Association that revealed 576 people have already been made redundant with a further 1,600 people on notice for next year if extreme cuts go through.

The survey, as reported by the BBC, covers nearly 10% of the primary solar sector (firms with direct activity and excluding the supply chain) and its figures are in addition to the 1,200 solar job losses at the three solar companies reported as going bankrupt over the last few months. These amount to a total of almost 1,800 known redundancies in the solar sector to date, with a further 1,600 people reportedly on notice.

If these findings were to reflect the whole industry, which currently consists of over 2,000 companies with solar as a primary business focus, then 6,500 jobs could have already been lost in the solar sector with a further 18,500 on notice.

The Solar Trade Association has previously estimated that 27,000 jobs out of a total of 35,000 in the solar industry and its supply chain could be at risk – figures that are only further supported by the results of this survey.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association commented: “Those 1,800 jobs that we know have already gone represent technical skills and experience that has been built up in the solar industry over the last five years. It is this very supply chain and know-how that is essential to delivering low-cost solar. And yet the Government is at risk of throwing many more of these jobs away.”

Most important to note is that these redundancies have come before the Government has even come to a final decision on the cuts to the solar Feed-in Tariff, suggesting further redundancies could be more severe should the plans go ahead.

An example of anonymous comment from a business who participated in the survey was: “The whole business is at risk, we may have to restructure to remove renewables and change back to electrical contracting, which would mean losing five jobs.”

Further anonymous comments highlight how the proposed cuts seem to be counterproductive to recent announcements from the Government stating its intended plans to promote apprenticeship schemes in order to tackle the skills crisis and build the proposed 400,000 new homes.

One participant said: “We place a high value on apprenticeships and training and if the full proposed cuts do go ahead we will be forced to let our current apprentices go.”

As a result, the Solar Trade Association and a group of cross-party MPs from all political parties including the Conservatives are urging the Government to adopt the STA’s ‘£1 emergency solar rescue plan’, which would safeguard many of the jobs at risk.

The plan would add an extra £1 per year on average household energy bills from 2019 for new solar deployed over the next three years – enough to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes – and would allow solar to continue in the UK while giving the Government the cost control guarantees it needs.

The full survey report can be found here.

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